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“Your safety still comes first” – Police

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At a time when police are calling on all New Zealanders to be kind, they are starting to see an increase in family harm incidents.

“And we know there could be more that aren’t being reported,” says police assistant commissioner Sandra Venables.

Police is urging anyone with concerns or information about family harm in their community to get in touch as soon as they can, as level 4 restrictions bring new pressures to whānau and home environments.

“We want everybody to know Police will continue to prioritise family harm incidents and we will come when you call,” says Sandra.

“Everybody deserves to be safe, and feel safe.

“We realise this is a hard time for some families and we want them to know police are there for them.

“We know that for some people, home right now may be an uncomfortable or scary place.

“It may also be harder for some people to contact police or other agencies as they may not have easy access to a phone.

“Let me be clear, if you are in immediate danger and you cannot call us on 111, leave your house and get out of harm’s way.

“Your safety comes first.

“Get to a safe distance and then ask a neighbour, or a passer-by, at a 2 metre distance, to call 111 for you.

“We also urge neighbours and friends to contact police if they have concerns.

“If you think something’s not right, it probably isn’t.”

“It’s okay to call police if you’re worried about someone as they may not be able to speak up for themselves.

“It’s everybody’s responsibility to help keep each other safe right now through this challenging time.

“You could be saving a life.

“We know there are also people out there who don’t want to harm their loved ones but who are facing an internal struggle.

“To them I say: please stay strong, please walk away and take a moment so you don’t do something you’ll regret to someone you love.

“You can reach out to us, or you can contact one of many support services listed on the Covid-19 website.

“They are there to support every member of your family and whānau.”

Police’s Integrated Safety Response, Whāngaia Ngā Pā Harakeke, and Family Violence Inter Agency Responses are continually assessing risk and linking victims, perpetrators, families, and whānau to support services.

“Our partners are a crucial part of supporting our communities and ensuring people get the help they need.

“As part of the response in the Covid-19 environment police is part of a family harm and sexual violence pandemic working group, which is ensuring the right groups are connected and working together on monitoring and response.”

Police has worked closely with Ministry of Social Development to ensure there is temporary accommodation for people under Police Safety Orders.

Police, the Joint Venture Business Unit, and MSD have also worked together to ensure 0800 Hey Bro, a number for men who feel they’re going to harm a loved one, has been able to operate nationally during COVID-19.

“We know being around the same people 24/7 can be a challenge, and we know for some people this may make them fearful, at risk, or on the edge of doing harm.

“So if you feel fearful or threatened, please reach out.”

SunLive spoke to Tauranga Women’s Refuge manager Hazel Hape and Julie Sach, from Tautoko Mai Sexual Harm Support who expressed their concerns about the potential rise in domestic violence during lockdown.

“It's up to the whole community to have our eyes and ears out. If you’re hearing stuff then don't hesitate to call the police if you’re really worried about somebody,” says Tautoko Mai societal change leader Julie Sach.

Anyone experiencing immediate danger as a result of family violence should dial 111 and ask for the Police.

The following helplines are also available to support people that don’t want to call police in the first instance.

  • Women's Refuge - 0800 733 843 – 24 hours
  • Tautoko Mai - 0800 227 233
  • Tauranga Living without Violence - 0800 577 003
  • Safe to Talk, sexual harm helpline - 0800 044334, text 4334, email: support@safetotalk.nz
  • Rape Crisis – 0800 88 33 00
  • Shine domestic abuse services - 0508 744 633 (9am - 11pm)
  • Hey Bro helpline - supporting men to be free from violence 0800 HeyBro (0800 439 276)
  • Family violence information, to find out about local services or how to help someone else - 0800 456 450
  • Oranga Tamariki, for concerns about children and young people - 0508 326 459, email: contact@ot.govt.nz
  • 1737 Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 for mental health support from a trained counsellor
  • Youthline – 0800 376 633, free text 234, email: talk@youthline.co.nz
  • Shakti, for migrant and refugee women - 0800 742 584 - 24 hours
  • Elder Abuse Helpline 0800 32 668 65 - 24 hours
  • Te Puna Oranga, whānau crisis line 0800 222 042 - 24 hours

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